Ten times the prisons needed for Laois public order accused

court reporter

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Court - Smashed garda patrol car outside Portlaoise courthouse

Judge made the remarks at this week's district court in Portlaoise

It would take ten times the number of prisons we have to lock up all the people who come before Portlaoise District Court on public order charges - and locking them up probably wouldn’t do any good anyway.

So said Judge Catherine Staines, in the case of a Portlaoise man who was fighting with his top off in the street.

Paul Greene (23), 16 Cois Na hAbhainn, Portlaoise, was charged with threatening or abusive behaviour, and being intoxicated in a public place, at Market Square, Portlaoise.

Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence that on August 26 this year, at 1.30am, the gardai responded to a fight on Main Street. The accused was there with his top off, trying to fight with another male. He fled the scene when gardaí arrived and had to be restrained and arrested. 

Sgt Kirby said the accused was aggressive at the garda station, but then calmed down.

The accused had 28 previous convictions, including 15 for public order offences.

Defence, Mr Barry Fitzgerald said the accused had been coming before the court very frequently last year. Defence said the accused, a father of four, had been doing quite well, but he slipped back a little and still needs assistance.

On the night of the offence, the accused had been involved in a local soccer team and they won a semi-final, so he went celebrating and drank too much, becoming obstreperous.

“This is a blight on his copybook,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

Defence said the accused had apologised to the gardaí and drafted a letter. This offence was alcohol-fueled, said Mr Fitzgerald.

Judge Staines said the accused had an appalling record for someone his age and had been sent to prison before on public order matters.

“But the prisons are full and if I was to send to prison everyone who comes before me on a public order charge, we would need ten more prisons and it doesn’t seem to work anyway,” said Judge Staines.

The matter was adjourned to January 9 for a restorative justice report on the accused.